Player-friendly rules needed

A file picture of Vasu Paranjape with Md. Kaif (left) and Reetinder Sodhi (right). When Paranjape was the BCCI Director of Coaching, his cupboard had more files of protests than of the performances of the players. Even before the start of a tournament, he would get calls about the protests.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY A file picture of Vasu Paranjape with Md. Kaif (left) and Reetinder Sodhi (right). When Paranjape was the BCCI Director of Coaching, his cupboard had more files of protests than of the performances of the players. Even before the start of a tournament, he would get calls about the protests.

The BCCI should get rid of the rule stating that only if a player is born or employed in a State is he eligible to play for that State. If the State that is keen to play him has no problems, why create hurdles for the player? What has the BCCI achieved by making Ajay Ratra sit at home for the third season?

In my last column, I wrote about the nonsensical rules hindering inter-State transfer of players. The rule for protests is also equally nonsensical. The worst part is officials of many associations of the BCCI are either ignorant of the rules or love playing mischief. Even before the BCCI granted a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Ajay Ratra to play for Goa, the Goa Cricket Association had announced Ratra as captain.

In the case of Maharashtra, rules do not seem to exist. At the time of writing this column, Bengal had sought clarification from the BCCI regarding the eligibility of two Maharashtra players who are registered with the Mumbai Cricket Association. This clarification was sought after the commencement of the Bengal vs Maharashtra match in the Ranji Trophy. Though the two players have not played Ranji for Mumbai and do not require a NOC, they could play for Maharashtra only if they were born in any district that is under the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) or were employed one year prior to the tournament in the MCA's area.

These players could not have played as professionals as the MCA had registered three players — Bahutule, Munaf Patel and Sriram — for the same category. Perhaps not knowing the rule, Hemang Badani, too, had opted to play for Maharashtra and had he not been cautioned that he couldn't play as a professional for the MCA barely 48 hours before the deadline i.e. October 1, he too, like Ratra and Dodda Ganesh, would have had to sit at home for the season.

The two Mumbai players playing for Maharashtra as non-professionals would miss two seasons as per the rule if Bengal protests and the protest is upheld. No team before this has ever resorted to protests to disqualify opposition players and put another team out of tournaments.

Those teams' forbearance deserves to be appreciated. But why has the BCCI made the rule if they have no intention of proactively implementing it? Is it not the duty of the Match Referee who is paid Rs. 5000 a day plus TA & DA (Travel and Dearness Allowance) to check whether the participating teams qualify under the rules of the BCCI? The solution could be to send a set of the registration forms of the players of the participating teams to the Match Referee and he should check the list before the toss to avoid any confusion. In case the participating team is questioning the interpretation of the rule, he should immediately inform the BCCI.

The role of a Match Referee in Indian domestic cricket is different from the role of a Match Referee in international cricket. The Match Referee of the BCCI is not only expected to rate the degree of talent of a player but also enforce the rules of the BCCI. This gives him the right to penalise an association for defying the rule.

The BCCI should get rid of the rule stating that only if a player is born or employed in a State is he eligible to play for that State. If the State that is keen to play him has no problems, why create hurdles for a player? What has the BCCI achieved by making Ajay Ratra sit at home for the third season? In the 1980s when Vasu Paranjape was the Director of Coaching, BCCI, his cupboard had more files of protests than of the performances of the players. Even before the start of a tournament, he would get calls about the protests.

And when he visited State associations, they would talk more about the protests than ask him how to improve cricket in their areas.

There is an urgent need for the BCCI to review all the rules in the handbook. I will not blame the two players who may have caused embarrassment for the MCA because any player would be keen to play in the Ranji Trophy. Not many players know the laws of the game. Don't expect them to know the rules in the handbook. Ensure that the rules are simple for players to understand and get the Match Referees to act.